About fifteen years ago I prayed the “Prayer of Jabez” which some Bible reading folk will know about. Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
"Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that
I will be free from pain." And God granted his request."
1 Chronicles 4:10
My interpretive prayer was, “Oh my God and King, please expand my opportunities and my impact in such a way that I touch more lives for your glory. Let me do more for you! Oh that your hand, through the power of the Holy Spirit, would be with me because I can’t do it alone. It’s too big for me.” This prayer opened me up to accepting the role of Principal at Charlton Christian College and more recently as CEO of New Hope International.
Jabez was not using prayer as a formula to get something from God, rather He was calling upon God to help him accomplish the promises of God.
What have I learned from praying that prayer and obeying God on this exciting journey of leadership?
1. I learned that you should be careful what you pray for. If you step out in obedience to God you might step right out of your comfort zone
2. I recognised that strength or blessings come from God. If he calls you, He (his hand) will do it!
3. I understood that Jabez’ prayer was not necessarily about land (tents) but about enlarging the Kingdom of God. My call was to do that through the work of Christian schools in the lives of young people and now in NHI with the training of Christian teachers across the globe.
4. I came to realise that I needed to recognise God’s continued presence with me in order to fulfil the calling. The knowledge of His deep love for me filled me with hope.
5. The name Jabez literally means “born with pain”. His own mother named him this because of the pain she endured in labour! When Jabez prays, he speaks against the testimony of his name and lets go of the shame it covered him in. So as I prayed I had to recognise my vulnerability, to wear the armour of God, and be ready for God to use my weakness for His glory.
Like Jabez, I am an ordinary person but over these many years I have come to acknowledge that with God in your life you can do over and above anything you could hope or dream of. (Ephesians 3:20). So I encourage you to pray this Jabez prayer…but be careful what you pray for. God may very well answer in ways that are outside your expectations.
Life is a challenge. Thank you for partnering with me and with the staff and volunteers of NHI in your love, encouragement and prayers (and financial donations if you would like to support our work.)